In life, heroes will arise when ever they are called for. It may be the everyday heroes that are seen rescuing a cat from a tree or helping an old lady cross the street. It may also be the heroes that are see in movies and books rescuing the princess from the dragon or leading their country in battle. Perhaps the rarest hero is the tragic one. William Shakespeare has artfully crafted some of the most prominent tragic heroes of all time. With one of the greatest being Othello. Othello is a tragic hero because of his noble traits, his tragic flaws, and his tragic downfall.
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For someone to be a tragic hero, they must first be a noble character. Othello can be considered a noble character because he is one of high social ranking and he has a genuine heart. Othello, despite coming from a rough past, is an honorable war hero and the general of the Venetian army. Along with his social stature, Othello also has a noble heart. Although he is sometimes portrayed as violent, Othello’s loving nature can be seen in instances such as when he speaks about Desdemona. These traits are greatly admired among characters of Othello including Iago who admits that Othello is “of a constant loving, noble nature [and] will prove to Desdemona A most dear husband” (2.1.290-292). Othello’s nobility is quite evident, however, he does have traits that can be viewed as tragic flaws.
Othello is a tragic hero because of his tragic flaw. There are many undesirable traits in Othello, like his jealousy and gullibility. However, the core of these problems and his main tragic flaw is his insecurities. Othello being the only black character and an outsider in Venice brings upon many insecurities. His vulnerability makes him an easy target for Iago to manipulate his mind; he begins to believe that he isn’t good enough for Desdemona: “She’s gone, I am abused, and my relief Must be to loathe her. Oh, curse of marriage That we can call these delicate creatures ours And not their appetites!” (3.3.283-286). Iago was easily able to convince Othello that Desdemona has been unfaithful. However, Othello doesn’t realize his insecurities have taken over his life until it is too late and his tragic downfall has already hit rock bottom.
What makes Othello a tragic hero is he experiences a tragic downfall. Othello’s downfall is set into motion when the jealous Iago begins planting seeds of doubt into Othello’s already insecure mind. Iago’s manipulative words convince Othello that his wife is unfaithful; from then on he begins to lose his noble traits. He treats his wife with little to no respect and eventually smothers her to death. When Iago’s plot is finally unveiled and Othello realizes his terrible mistake, it is evident he has reached his emotional limit: “Whip me, ye devils, From the possession of this heavenly sight! Blow me about in winds, roast me in sulfur, Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire!—Oh, Desdemona! Desdemona! dead! Oh! Oh!” (5.2.286-290). In his distraught state of mind and with his broken heart, Othello decides to kill himself. With one fatal stab, this hero’s tale comes to a tragic end.
Othello is a tragic hero because he is noble, he suffers from a fatal tragic flaw and he goes through a tragic downfall. All these traits that Othello exhibits lead him to be known as one of the most well-known tragic heroes in all of literature.
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